Cedarhurst hosting 2018 SIU photography exhibition

By Pete Rosenbery, SIU News Service 

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The photographic works of Southern Illinois University Carbondale students and faculty are on display at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mount Vernon.

The 2018 exhibition “The Influence of Tradition in Contemporary Photography,” features work from undergraduate and graduate students and faculty within the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. The exhibition, which dates back to 1993, runs through April 29 in the center’s Beal Grand Corridor Gallery.

Admission to the exhibition is free, but admission to the main gallery is $5, except on Thursdays, which are free.

Exhibition presents ‘unique opportunity for students’

The works on display include photographs by students across a varying range of experience levels — from graduate-level students to those who are taking their first photography class — according to Daniel Overturf, professor in the Department of Cinema and Photography.

The exhibition is also special in that it allows students to show their images in a regional arts center with an international reputation for its galleries and sculpture park, he noted.

“In many cases, the exhibit will be the student’s first gallery exhibit. While some students may eventually enter the professional, commercial photography field, many might also enjoy long careers in galleries and other public art events,” Overturf said. “The relationship that has been fostered with Cedarhurst over the years has resulted in many wonderful examples of creative interrelationships between students, faculty and staff in our college.”

Wanted to show ‘hard-working Americans’

John Penkala by Louis Washkowiak

Louis Washkowiak, a senior photography major from Spring Valley, chose a photo from his Applied II Photography class. It’s the last photo class students typically take, and one that helps them find their career paths once they graduate.

Washkowiak said he drew much of the inspiration for his photograph, “John Penkala,” from early 20th century street and documentary-style photographers, such as Walker Evans and Robert Frank. Penkala, Washkowiak said, is a miner for a sand company.

Evans and Frank “had a lot of images showing hard-working Americans, which is something I think is important to preserve,” Washkowiak said. “I simply wanted to create this visual still documentary of John Penkala while he was hard at work.”

Started her shoot with just a location

Delphian by Haley Powell

Powell’s photograph, “Delphian,” projects a deadpan style of photography which is generally described as a deliberate display of no emotion. The photograph is channeling the documentary portrait style of Alec Soth, as well as painting like the Mona Lisa and American Gothic, she said.

Powell, from Savannah, Ga., said she usually starts with a concept or subject.

“But after I found the location I knew I wanted to make a photo of a person in front of the beautiful landscape and somehow I got to this final image,” she said.

‘Personal achievement’ to have photos in exhibit

Washkowiak and Powell each appreciate the chance for others to see their work. Washkowiak would like to have a photo on permanent display in an institution or gallery.

“To me, having an image up at Cedarhurst feels like the first step to achieving my goals,” he said.

The experience is “extremely valuable,” Powell agreed. “This is the only time my work has been exhibited outside of the classroom or the school’s hallways.

“It’s also a safe introduction to the process because there are consistent reminders of deadlines and it’s a student show, which I think makes people respond differently to the work.”

Faculty also contribute work

The 34-piece exhibition is comprised of work from 31 students and three faculty: Overturf, Antonio Martinez, associate professor, and Alison Smith, a visiting lecturer in the department.

‘Visually exciting show with lots of good ideas and execution’

The exhibition is also important for people from the community as it enables them to observe the students’ current ideas and techniques as well as their abilities, Rusty Freeman, Cedarhurst’s director of visual arts, said. He said it is Cedarhurst’s honor to bring awareness of the “teaching and student work being offered” at SIU Carbondale.

“The exhibit is a way of keeping our finger on the pulse of what is happening in today’s world from the students’ unique perspective,” Freeman said.

Exhibit part of larger Paul Strand photography exhibition

Main Gallery admission, which features “Paul Strand and the Masters of American Photography,” is $5 per person; Cedarhurst members, and children 10 and under are free.

Admission is free on Thursday.

Cedarhurst Center for the Arts is at 2600 Richview Road, Mount Vernon.  The facility is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.  There are extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The facility is closed on Mondays and national holidays.

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